It’s time to grade the MLB big-money deals made this past offseason.
The 2022-23 winter signing season was a glorious and enriching one if you were a big league talent in search of new digs.
But if you were a general manager assessing that same preseason in terms of performance for the dollars meted out, you might grade what transpired with a less complimentary term: an effluent show.
Fifteen MLB players signed new deals this past winter that paid them $20 million or more (and sometimes it was a lot more) to play baseball in 2023. But only four of those 15 will be in uniform for the signing team when the postseason’s first pitch is thrown on Tuesday.
There’s an easy way to calculate the steep price for slightly above mediocre talent in 2023. Just look at the 2023 WARs and Win Probability Added numbers of those 15 best-rewarded players. They are nothing special.
Here are the collective figures. The 15 players who got minimum $20 million deals for 2023 this past winter averaged 3.6 WAR for their signing teams. That’s against an average WAR for all of MLB of about 2.5. But one signee (Shohei Ohtani) accounted for the bulk of that difference. The other 14 averaged just 2.55 WAR, barely above average.
The best measurement of clutch performance is Win Probability Added. The average for the 15 was just +0.93. And again, Ohtani accounted for most of that. For the other 14, the average clutch value over the course of the full season amounted to less than half a game. Four of the 15 actually produced negative value for their signing teams.
From best paid on down to worst paid, here’s a grade for the contracts signed this past winter by the 15.